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Master Your Mac: Simple Ways to Tweak, Customize, and Secure OS X Book Review

This book is a great addition to my collection of Mac how to books. I like this one because it steps over the line into the more technical side of Mac features than most of the Mountain Lion guide books do.

The book is broken down into seven parts. I have listed the parts below along with the chapters they each contain.

I. Back to Basics
1. The Best Shortcuts (and How to Make Your Own)
2. Starting Applications Automatically at Login
3. Finding Files and Folders Fast
4. Organizing Windows
5. Cleaning House
6. Adjusting Energy and Display Settings

II. Boosting Productivity
7. Launching Applications Fast
8. Customizing Trackpad and Mouse Gestures
9. Connecting Multiple Displays to Your Mac
10. Talking to Your Mac

III. Automation
11. Automating Tasks with Macros
12. Automating Tasks with AppleScript
13. Creating a Bluetooth Proximity Monitor
14. Automating File and Folder Actions
15. Triggering Location-Based Actions

IV. Managing Your Life
16. Managing Your Email
17. Killing Spam
18. Creating Quick and Easy Alerts
19. Managing Your Music

V. Internet and Networks
20. Creating Your Own Safari Extension
21. Turning Websites into Applications
22. Storing Files in the Cloud
23. Accessing Your Mac Remotely
24. Turning Your Mac into a Web and FTP Server
25. Wirelessly Sharing a Printer and Hard Drive
26. Synchronizing Files Between Computers

VI. Serious Security
27. Creating Strong Passwords and Storing Them Securely
28. Enabling Firmware Password Protection
29. Encrypting Your Mac’s Internet Connection
30. Enabling Firewalls
31. Preserving Your Anonymity Online
32. Encrypting Your Hard Disks and Backups

VII. Monitoring, Troubleshooting, and Maintenance
33. System and Process Monitoring
34. Repairing Disk Permissions
35. Verifying and Repairing the Hard Disk
36. Making Better File Backups
37. Maintaining a MacBook’s Battery
38. Creating an Emergency USB Drive

One of the things I like about the book is the way it is laid out. It has a very comfortable and easy to read format. Each chapter starts with an overview of the topic, the project goal for the chapter, and a What You'll be using section. The author then digs into the details of the topic.

At the beginning of each chapter there is a "What You'll be Using" section. This section lists all the tools the author takes advantage of in the chapter. The tools are not all free open source tools. There are some tools listed that must pay for, but I would rather have the tools that get the job done right, than just partial open source tools. Some books I've read have only used open-source tools and a lot of times they've been limited in their functionality.

The author's writing style makes the topics at hand very easy to understand and makes the book a very easy read. It not only can be read from cover to cover, it also make a great reference.

Some of the chapters that were a pleasant surprise were Turning Your Mac into a Web and FTP Server, Preserving Your Anonymity Online, Encrypting Your Mac’s Internet Connection, Creating Your Own Safari Extension, Automating Tasks with AppleScript, and Creating a Bluetooth Proximity Monitor.

The author covers downloading, installing, and configuring MAMP. The author helps you get Apache and MySQL up and running in no time at all.

I love that the author introduces the Tor Browser Bundle and Vidalia Bundle in the Preserving Your Anonymity Online chapter. Not many people know about it. I have used it several time when running through white hat hack attacks during security testing.

This book will stay in my backpack. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take the Mac user skills to the next level.

Master Your Mac

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More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.